Why would I start teaching yeast bread classes with a whole wheat loaf? I'll admit that sometimes whole grain products can be heavy, and many people prefer the lightness of white bread. When tomatoes are ripening in the garden, I need a white bread smothered with lots of mayonnaise for my tomato sandwiches. Whole wheat bread just doesn't cut it. But the rest of the year, we eat this whole grain bread.
I always wanted to be one of those people who made their own bread, but I never made it a priority, therefore it only happened a few times a year. Baking bread is a skill that comes with practice and I realized that if I wanted to get good at it, I needed to put forth a little more effort. So one day I pulled out the wheat grinder and my bread pans and never looked back. This bread is our "everyday" loaf. It's super satisfying to know that we are eating bread that I've made with my own hands and that it's good for us. I'm also happy to be using the wheat I have in storage (more on food storage later).
I wanted to teach my class that it's possible to have a healthy bread that tastes good too. I also wanted them to learn about different varieties of wheat and what bread tastes like when made with each. We taste tested bread made from hard red wheat, hard white wheat and a mix of the two. We even made some loaves with whole wheat flour and unbleached white flour. Using my Wondermill grain mill we ground some white wheat kernels into flour. Even if you never plan to grind your own wheat, it's a fun process to experience.
My personal favorite is a loaf made with a blend of hard red and hard white wheat. 100% whole wheat bread made from flour that was milled just moments before being added to the bowl is as good as it gets.
During class, someone asked me if they could make rolls and hamburger buns from the same bread dough that we were using to make loaves. I've always made my rolls and buns from a different recipe, and it hadn't occurred to me to use this for everything. It was a great question and I wanted to find out the answer, so today, I made some bread.
I mix and knead my dough in a Bosch mixer. I've had this baby for over twenty years and it just keeps on going. "You get what you pay for" is true when it comes to a Bosch. I love this machine because it can handle a lot of dough. This recipe makes six loaves and although that seems like a lot of bread, it freezes beautifully. If you cut the ingredients by half, you could make it in a large stand mixer with a dough hook or it could be mixed by hand. That would be a good workout for your arms.
So here's how this comes together. I combine warm water, yeast and a couple of cups of flour and let is sit for a few minutes to sponge. Meanwhile, I get my pans ready and clean up from the milling process.
To the sponge (which smells amazing!), I add oil, honey or sorghum, dough enhancer, vital wheat gluten, salt and more flour. In that order, so the honey slides nicely out of the measuring cup. It was a happy day when I figured out that little trick. Because this is a 100% whole wheat dough, the bread can turn out heavy. The addition of dough enhancer and vital wheat gluten help alleviate that problem. I wouldn't use these items in a white flour bread, because it would be light enough without them, but they are a game changer for whole wheat bread. Wheat gluten can be purchased in grocery stores and this dough enhancer can be found online.
After adding anywhere from 10 - 15 cups of flour, I slow down with the flour, watching for the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl. It's tempting to add too much flour, and the dough will take what you give it, so add sparingly at the end. As soon as the sides of the bowl look clean, I put the lid on and let it knead for about 10 minutes. Here's when you do more clean up, move laundry from washer to dryer or answer emails, all while the machine kneads your bread for you. I love how that works.
After ten minutes, I pull the dough out of the bowl and do a little hand kneading. Warm bread dough under your hands is a simple pleasure that never gets old.
When using instant, or rapid rise yeast, you can eliminate the first rising and go straight to shaping. This cuts bread making time in half!
I cut the dough into pieces and started shaping. First I made two loaves. Then I started on the dinner rolls. I made nine little balls for each round pan.
I rolled out the last of the dough and cut it into circles for sandwich buns. I used this glass to cut the buns, but a can with a sharp edge would've worked better.
This is what I ended up with. Aren't those dinner rolls lovely? So, "Can you make rolls and buns with the same recipe that you used to make the loaf bread?" I would say, "Yes Mary Kay, you can."
100% Whole Wheat Bread
2/3 cup honey or sorghum
2/3 cup vegetable oil
6 cups warm water ( around 100 degrees)
3 T. instant yeast
1 1/2 - 2 T. salt
16-20 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour
3 T. dough enhancer
1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
Combine warm water, yeast and 2 cups flour in bowl. Allow to sponge for
about 10 minutes. Add oil, honey, dough enhancer, salt, gluten and 5 cups
flour. Mix. Add additional flour until dough begins to clean the sides of the bowl.
Knead bread for 6 - 10 minutes. Form into loaves and put into greased loaf pans,
or shape into rolls or buns. Allow to rise 30 - 60 minutes. Dough rises best around
70 -80 degrees. Higher temperatures will cause the bread to ferment too quickly
and have an off taste.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. If you have an instant read thermometer, the internal temperature should be at least 190 degrees. Remove from pans and cool away from drafts.
Cool before slicing, if you have the discipline to wait. I've been told an electric knife will slice right through hot bread, without crushing it, if you're lucky enough to have one. Hot bread and butter, with a little jam or honey on top = dessert!